ODFW Commission; Gillnets Forever

Can You Hear Us Now?

In another betrayal of promises the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission once again discarded the intent of the Columbia River Reform package, locking anglers out of all that we paid for, what we sacrificed for, and what we were promised.

On Friday afternoon, commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the staff proposal, which keeps gillnets on the mainstem Columbia FOREVER. It also continues to limit the economics of the sport fleet by stifling us at a 70/30 allocation for fall Chinook, and – the final eye-poke – keeps sport boats out of the ill-crafted Young’s Bay bubble, where we have the ability to remove more hatchery fish from the spawning grounds. It’s nothing short of hypocrisy.

Commissioners, we’re done with you, we’re headed to the legislature, and back to the Governor’s office.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way; we paid our Columbia River Endorsement Fee, we transferred smolt production to Young’s Bay, from the Willamette and Sandy River Basins to sustain the gillnet fleet, we woefully swallowed a Young’s Bay Bubble closure, barbless hooks on the Willamette, barbless hooks on the Columbia, surpassed economic benchmarks for the gillnet fleet, and we’re still tolerant of large-mesh gillnets on the mainstem despite the promise to transition to alternative gear?


But for this commission, that’s not enough.
What have we done to deserve this?


Fortunately, you have helped us move the needle with our state legislators. We have two super-hero’s in the legislature, Senator Fred Girod Sen.FredGirod@state.or.us and Representative Bill Kennemer Rep.BillKennemer@state.or.us. Won’t you send them an email, thanking them for being champions of the Columbia River Reforms? They not only deserve it, we’ll need them to keep working on our behalf. Representative Kennemer delivered this blistering floor speech, calling out the rogue 4 commissioners that threw sport anglers under the bus.

Governor Brown has helped, sending  this letter to Oregon Commission Chair Michael Finley, calling the January 20 Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision abandoning the Columbia River Fisheries Reform Plan “confusing”, “untenable”, and not “acceptable.” Governor Brown gave the commission until April 3 to change its decision and to “honor the commitments” made in the Reform Plan. Governor Brown did however, enable this gillnet favoring commission to adopt eye-poking policy that again, short-sheets the sport fleet. It’s not acceptable!

The Washington Policy of a 75/25 allocation shift was compromise enough, why would we accept a 70/30 allocation into perpetuity, when we were promised 80/20 by 2017. The Washington commission policy is a compromise, but one that we can live with if it’s only for two more years. Oregon’s “re-balancing plan” is UNACCEPTABLE, and we’ve testified to that from the day it was crafted!

I know we all hate homework, but we did it for a reason; it taught us a lesson, and made us better people. We’re almost there, and we’re moving the needle. Most importantly, the Oregon legislature and Governor Brown don’t want this issue back in their building! They dealt with it in 2013, they have a $1.7 billion budget shortfall to deal with, and frankly the ODF&W budget is up for negotiation in a few weeks.

How are you feeling about the next two fee increases that have already been adopted by the legislature, the first one of two, just a short 9 months away?


Help Us Help You


We gotta go back to the Governor’s office. She can make this right. Whether she over-rides these rogue commissioners or replaces them, why not do both? Let her know your feelings by lighting up her phone line by calling (503) 378-4582. It’s gone beyond emails now, you’ve just got to call.

And while the Governor can solve this debacle on her own, she sometimes needs pressure from her legislative body. That’s why it’s just as important to call your STATE senator and representative, after finding them on this website after inputting your address.




• Call the Governor’s office at (503) 378-4582, ask her to remove the rogue commissioners that continue to defy her. Tell her that sport anglers that foot the majority of ODF&W’s mission deserve better. Tell her to honor the commitments made in the reform plan

• Call or email your legislator by finding him/her from here. Ask them to call the Governor and right the wrong that this commission continues to throw in the face of sportanglers.

• If you haven’t already done so, sign our petition here, so we can add you to the already 6,000+ sportanglers that are calling for Bruce Buckmaster’s removal and for Oregon to adopt concurrent regulations with Washington.

• Sign up OR renew your Steelheaders membership here, so we can add you to our army of anglers that we get to represent on this issue, and so many others! Also consider a donation here. Your contribution goes directly into our Columbia River Reform Campaign so we can keep the pressure on, when you’re not able to!

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. You HAVE moved the needle on this, we just have a bit further to push. We clearly don’t have a friendly commission, our work lies legislatively now.

Bob Rees
Executive Director
Association of Northwest Steelheaders

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